Department of Family and Community Services

Key findings

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The data presented in this chapter identifies a number of health conditions that affect women more than men. For example, older women are nearly one and a half times more likely than men to be hospitalised overnight due to injuries resulting from a fall; women are more likely to suffer from arthritis, long and short sightedness and osteoporosis; and young women are more likely than men to require hospitalisation as a result of the fast-growing disease, Chlamydia. The worrying upward trend in young women’s self-inflicted injury rate has not levelled off.

As in last year’s Women in NSW Report, NSW women’s less positive rating of their health status compared to men contrasts with the fact that they generally engage in healthy behaviours more often than men. Fewer women than men smoke (13 percent compared to 17 percent of men in 2011), around half as many women as men engage in risky drinking, and fewer women than men are overweight and obese (45 percent compared to 60 percent in 2011). When it comes to exercise, however, men are taking the lead. Men are more likely to engage in adequate levels of exercise and demonstrate a greater increase in exercise rates over the last decade.

As in last year’s Report, some of the most worrying statistics relate to disparities among women. Women living in remote areas of NSW have more than twice the rate of women in major cities of preventable hospitalisations, due to poor access to general practitioners and primary health care. Women from lower socioeconomic, and from non-English speaking backgrounds suffer poorer mental health. More than one in seven women from both of these groups reported experiencing high or very high psychological distress in the four weeks prior to the survey.

Low socio-economic status women are more likely to be current smokers than other women but are less likely to be risky drinkers.

Aboriginal women’s health is reported for several indicators, including their antenatal and maternity health experience. Births to Aboriginal mothers have more than doubled as a percentage of all births since 1990. As with women overall, the share of births to Aboriginal mothers 19 years and under is dropping but at 19 percent in 2010 remains far higher than for the total population (3 percent). Aboriginal women have a higher rate of potentially preventable hospitalisation and are more likely to be hospitalised for smoking and alcohol-related conditions.